Crossing the Mona Passage to the Dominican Republic

By the time we had published the blog it was Friday afternoon so we decided to have lunch ashore….   We ordered a single portion of ribs to share between us and this slab of meat turned up!!! OMG – absolutely huge….   Very very tasty though so it we took about half back in a doggy bag.

Huge ribs

We popped into the chandlery – as we needed some more polish – and bumped into Pat and Eric. Wandered back down to the town dock with them and said our farewells….   We have really enjoyed their company over the last few days.

Back on board Morphie and we take the outboard off the dinghy…and stow on the rail. We then lift dink onto his davits for the trip.   I go below making food for the passage while Richard does final engine and other maintenance checks. We finalise our passage planning – insert the waypoints – and enable the chart plotter to follow the route. Then it is time for our final Boqueron sunset – followed by an amazing full moon – and then an early night.

Last sunset in Puerto Rico Full moon

We are up before the sun on Saturday morning and slip away quietly from the anchorage and say our final farewells to Puerto Rico.   The sun comes up to say goodbye as we go out through the reef under motor….

Sunrise over Boqueron Sunrise over Boqueron 2

Having cleared the shallows we then hoist our sails – on a broad reach passing Isla Desecheo to starboard. Then we changed direction slightly – now with the wind more or less behind us – so we ran on genoa alone. The seas picked up as we got deeper into the Mona Passage and were about 7 feet with gusts of wind up to 24 knots.   Going very smoothly – enjoying ourselves a lot – and we had a few ships crossing our path.   Gassa – a new crew member – was also enjoying himself.  No seriously, he is just a jerry jug of petrol in disguise LOL.

Into the Mona Passage


New crew member

One tanker, named the Casa Palma, was visible on the AIS but we could not eyeball him.   So we radioed him to ensure that he had seen us – and all we got back was ‘Get out of my way’!!!   Not very friendly to say the least….   Certainly not an officer and a gentleman….   We then went into our shift pattern and I took the first 6-9pm slot.   Richard went down below to get some sleep. However, the movement was pretty rolly as we had following winds and seas and sleeping was quite difficult.   I watched the sun go down and enjoyed the peace and quiet as the darkness descended.

Sunset at sea

At 9pm we swapped over and I went below…. Sleep was elusive but I enjoyed relaxing a bit….   Then we swapped again….and Richard saw the sun rise…..and let me have an extra hour in my bunk! Thank you – much appreciated…

Sunrise at sea

Coming up at 7am Richard told me that a 900 feet tanker had just changed course to avoid us – so he radioed to say thank you. Complete contrast to the other guy or what?!?   We got a picture of Iron Fritz as he passed us eventually.   He was a big chap!

Iron Fritz

After a good passage and a pretty uneventful night we started our approach into Samana and Richard saw a whale breach….then we saw two other water spouts as they exhaled….but sorry no pictures!  Very excited….   We ended up having to motor the last couple of miles because of the changing wind direction so we enjoyed the sights of the whale watching boats out and about and our first visual of Samana town.

Heading into Samana Bay

Samana town from the sea Whale watching trips

We approached where we though the marina was because, although in our pilot guide and on google earth, it didn’t appear on our latest chartplotter chip!   Finding the entrance a rib came out to tell us which side to tie our fenders on – so all prepared we turned sideways to the waves and ran into the entrance of the marina.  Followed the rib to find the slip they were pointing at to find it was on the opposite side of what they had told us – so Richard had to do some quick (difficult) manoeuvring in close quarters and strong winds while I ran around like a looney changing everything over. Finally we entered the slip – and one guy came on board to help us with the three pilings that we need to tie up to as well as those on the concrete dock.   Phew – all done.   We filled in the marina papers that we were given almost immediately – fending off dock workers who want to clean our boat – and then were escorted to the immigration / navy commandante to complete our clearance procedures.   We were expecting a range of officials to board our boat but we were spared this – perhaps coming in on a Sunday was a good idea!!!   Although we did get stung for overtime fees – having to pay $94 for the pleasure of checking into the Dominican Republic.   But hey, we’ve done it!    A passage of 158 miles in 30 hours from anchor up to docked in the marina.   We’ve crossed the Mona Passage…. woohoo…..another cruising milestone checked off.   Very pleased with ourselves.

We enjoyed the sight of the marina buildings before we got ourselves cleaned up and had a couple of hours sleep.

Puerto Bahia marina

We then went exploring…..   We didn’t realise that this marina was part of The Bannister Hotel which is listed as one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Wow is the only word to describe this place…..   And very good value as we get to use all the facilities of the hotel for only $1 a foot in the marina – bargain!

Puerto Bahia 1 Puerto Bahia 2 Puerto Bahia 3 Puerto Bahia 4 Puerto Bahia 5 Puerto Bahia 6 Puerto Bahia 7 Puerto Bahia 8 Puerto Bahia 9

We settled into the bar overlooking the marina and had a couple of Presidentes – the local brew – before turning in for the night.

Time for Presidente Chilling

Monday morning we explored a bit more around the marina – and spoke to the on-site tour people to see what is available. We had hoped to visit Santo Domingo while here – which has an ancient area a bit along the lines of old San Juan – but were told it was not safe to go on our own.   Shame we were really looking forward to that but hey, if these people live here and don’t recommend it, then who are we to ignore that type of advice????   With loads of information to consider we take ourselves off to do more domestic stuff – like laundry – while we left two local guys washing and waxing the topsides and cleaning the stainless steel…   We were going to do this ourselves but the price they wanted for the whole job was so reasonable we thought, why not???   We returned later to find Morphie sparkling….they had even climbed up the arch to clean the stainless steel, which is an area I always struggle to do…. So fantastic job!  Thanks guys.

Morphie enjoying her rest

In the afternoon we decided to take ourselves off to the pool – with waiter service even supplying towels and pillows – and went bobbing for the first time since we left the BVIs.   Was pure bliss – and the view out into the bay is just spectacular….   Had a wonderful time before having a quiet night back on board.

Bobbing again! Bobbing again 2

Tuesday morning we organised a taxi to take us into Santa Barbara Samana – the local town.   We need to get to the bank to pick up some drinking vouchers in pesos …   Leaving our manicured surroundings behind us we went first to the local fruit and veg market.   The place is absolutely manic – people everywhere, motorised rickshaws vying for trade, motorbikes with four people up, large drains running with more than water, and just completely crazy. Reminded us a little of India….   Anyway, we wandered around – purchased our fresh produce from a very helpful lady – and then spotted the butcher stands!   We always like to try local street food whilst out and about but chicken and pork parts laying in the full sun open to flies meant we quickly changed our minds about this….

Fruit and veg market

Samana 1 Butchers 2 Butchers Fruit and veg market 2

We then went downtown – got some local currency – and wandered around the seafront area. We came across a really pretty Methodist church called La Churcha which was shipped to Samana from England in pieces back in 1823 before being reconstructed. Amazing…

Samana 4 Samana 2 Samana 3 Samana 5

The town is really quite small – and a bit manic – and we enjoyed wandering around. We came across a large development of small shops with most of them empty. There was security though – and the guy really is leaning on his pump action shotgun as a seat!   Gave him a wide berth….

Samana 6 Samana 7

After exploring we went into a French restaurant that had been recommended by the tour office – and had a wonderful lunch.   Beef in green pepper sauce, chicken in mushroom sauce, followed by semifreddo and a deconstructed tarte tatin.   Really enjoyed it – it has been a long time since we have actually sat down and had a meal in a restaurant…..

Lunch stop Lunch 1 Lunch 2 Lunch 3 Lunch 4

Heading back to the marina we went to the pool…..had a couple more beers….and then went back to Morphie. After showering we decided to have a snooze and nothing else to eat for the day.   Of course we ended up waking up at 9pm so decided to stay put and that’s what we did LOL.

This morning – Wednesday – and we have just been to see the commandante and the marina office to secure permission to go over to Los Haitieses national park with Morphie for a couple of nights.   There are caves, mangroves, an eco lodge and beaches to explore so very pleased to have secured permission…and will head over there tomorrow. The rest of today will be spent chilling – and probably another visit to that fantastic pool providing the rain holds off….  Wind very strong right now with grey skies….

Bye for now